There are lots of techniques and tips to creating the best graphic designs and UX/UI designs. Designing in grayscale can be beneficial when designing your UX/UI elements or pages. If you’ve wanted to increase your design output or learn new techniques to boost your designs, check out these 10 reasons why designing your UX/UI designs in grayscale will increase your design success.
1. Better Accessibility
UX/UI—User Experience/User Interface—design’s primary function is to give your users the best experience with the best interfaces you can create. This includes creating accessible design for your users and being inclusive to anyone who interacts with your design.
Designing in grayscale allows you to focus on accessible parts of design like contrast, size, and spacing first. You can spot contrast easily when using grayscale tones. Contrast is often overlooked when designing in color, especially if you don’t have any visual impairments that make a lack of contrast difficult to notice.
Design in high-contrast grayscale first and then in color following the WCAG accessibility guidelines, and you can also use tools to simulate color blindness to see how your design looks for others. This will ensure your UX/UI designs are accessible to more people.
2. Focuses on Layout and Structure
As a designer, your primary focus is on function rather than form. Although designers make things look good, they also must function well before being pretty. By designing in grayscale, you can focus on the layout and structure of your design without being distracted by color.
In UX/UI design specifically, layout and structure are most important. You’re designing how the user interacts with your app or webpage. The layout needs to make sense, and the structure of the page or app should be concrete. Color can follow once the rest is in place.
3. Neutral Collaboration Starting Point
If you’re working in a design team, designing in grayscale first allows everyone to start in a neutral place. Too often do teams of creative people butt heads on elements as insignificant as color, when there are more important aspects to UX/UI design.
Starting in a neutral place with grayscale lets your collaboration efforts focus on what matters most. You can design elements, layouts, typography, and interface experience without thinking about colors and decorations.
Once the collaboration agrees with UX/UI layout design, you can consider colors to enhance the structural design. By that point, your team would’ve worked harmoniously together and the color decisions will not be as stressful.
4. Faster Iterations
Having the base of your design complete and knowing how it functions means that making iterations is a much quicker process. When you’re not focusing on color, iterations are faster to make, share, and decide on, especially when working directly with clients.
Clients often focus on color before design function. Removing color from the iteration options means the client, the design team, and yourself can move faster to focus on what needs changing.
When everything is grayscale, moving elements or resizing parts is faster. You won’t have to constantly recolor elements to fit or consider placements based on similar or non-matching colors. This certainly speeds up the design component.
5. Easier to Colorize
It’s much easier to add color if you’ve designed in grayscale. If everything is predesigned and agreed upon, then color is almost the last step of the process.
Designing in grayscale doesn’t restrict you to designing in just black. You can design in hues of gray, allowing you to input contrast differences into your designs while in the design process.
With visual contrast differences in place, it’s much easier and faster to attribute colors to elements, especially when following accessibility guidelines for color contrast. Using a limited color palette, you should attribute each color to a contrast value. Then, you just input each contrast value color to your grayscale design.
6. Stops Visual Clutter
Designing in grayscale allows you to focus on the design elements. Too much color can add clutter during your design—both in the design process and in the final product.
Removing the distraction of color while designing can result in clean and organized designs, ensuring you don’t over-design with color or other elements. Your UX/UI design will be clutter-free and will show off your sleek design instead.
7. Color Isn’t the Most Important Factor
Color often helps cement brand style or guidelines and often becomes an element your project, brand, or business is known for—but color isn’t the most important factor of a UX/UI design. You’ll know this if you’ve ever turned your iPhone into grayscale mode.
If a design can still function without issue in grayscale, then your design works successfully. It doesn’t matter what the colors are in your design, as they’re not important to the function.
Adding texture and shape to your UX/UI designs will increase functionality over just using color. Like with photography composition rules, there are composition rules for design as well, and they’re very similar.
Crack your UX/UI design and ensure it functions well, is accessible to all, and looks good. Then apply color to reflect your branding.
8. Receive More Constructive Feedback
This was lightly touched upon in an earlier point, but with the distraction of color taken out of the equation, your UX/UI design will receive more constructive feedback. This is the case whether you’re taking criticism from your design team of professional designers or whether you’re sharing your project with a client who knows nothing about design.
Naturally, humans see color and associate it to certain aspects, like negative or positive connotations, gendered expectations, or other associations. By presenting grayscale designs, your constructive criticism can focus only on the design without being overshadowed by color associations.
9. Save Time and Money
In the business world, time is money. By saving time designing in grayscale, you’re saving money in the long run.
Adding color in the beginning stages of designing takes time. Then, no doubt, you’d spend time changing or editing colors throughout the design process, rather than focusing on designing. This again takes more time away from the design process.
By adding color at the end of your design, you’ll know already which elements and layouts you’re using; it’s much easier—and faster—to add color to existing design elements than trying to consider colors for elements that don’t yet exist.
10. UX/UI Colors Can Be Changed
UX/UI designs and applications allow many users to take color into their own hands. While your interface design is the focus, and color is the last part of your design implementation, remember that many users change colors of their webpages and device apps.
Light mode and dark mode will change your color choices—although you should design for each option in your process anyway; check out our tips for designing a dark mode UI.
There are many fun quirks that allow people to change design colors to whatever they want, regardless of your color choices in the process. These quirky tools—like iPhone users changing the colors of text bubbles or changing the text color on iOS devices—mean your efforts designing for colors may go out the window, and it’s better that your design works in grayscale or any color, rather than only in one colorway.
Designing in Grayscale Will Amplify Your UX/UI Designs
It may seem odd to begin designing in grayscale when you’ve lived a life designing in color, but it’s a good practice to start doing. Designing in grayscale will add focus to important design elements like shapes, textures, and accessibility. It will give more meaning to your design instead of putting focus on an element like color that can be changed easily by users anyway.